Team

Learn about our Agri-EPI Centre team and all our operational staff.

Dave Ross

Chief Executive Officer

Dave provides leadership and strategic direction to the development of the Centre in its emerging role, both nationally and internationally. He is a trained engineer, with 26 years’ experience of agri-technology in both the cropping and livestock sectors, encompassing a broad range of technology areas. He has been involved in the R&D of a number of novel and patented developments across the agricultural production sectors. Some of these have been fully commercialised and he has assisted with spin-out and new company formations.

Kirk Siderman-Wolter

Chief Operating Officer

Kirk has an extensive career ranging from work in central government to social enterprise and innovation companies. He has worked from audit to board level in the private, public and charities sectors all round the world, and has held posts with the Ministry of Justice, BEIS, the Home Office and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. A Chartered Accountant, he also holds an MBA from the London Business School and is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Guelph, Canada’s largest agricultural university.

Lisa Williams

Director of Business Development

Lisa has vast experience in the agri-food sector, having spent over 20 years working in the industry in a variety of different roles. More recently, Lisa headed the agri-food division of Promar International, with a focus on client engagement, business development, project delivery, implementing systems, PR and team management. Lisa has dealt with the project management and direction of a range of assignments in the fresh and processed horticultural sectors, as well as the pork, dairy, poultry and beef sectors with clients from across the supply chain operators, government departments, levy bodies/organisations in both the UK and globally.

Dr Shamal Mohammad

Chief Technical Officer

Dr Shamal Mohammed is a leading expert in digital agriculture with a strong passion for transforming the industry by developing novel and practical solutions, using smart technologies, to help farmers and producers optimise food production and minimise adverse environmental impacts. Shamal worked for Origin Enterprise PLC, AHDB and, more recently, Agrii where he was a Head of Integrated Crop Technology and later Regional Manager for soil, nutrition and precision agriculture. Currenty, being based in Cranfield, Shamal works with Agri-EPI partners to lead the journey to innovate technology in the agriculture sector by providing farmers and producers with a wide range of scientifically robust and commercially viable capabilities.

Andrew Clifton

Head of Procurement & Legal

Andrew is a procurement specialist, with an interest and qualification in law as well. Andrew has worked in both the public and private sectors, and has experience of working with university partners, both on the CR&D project side as well as construction. Working together with the COO he is building the foundations of the procurement approach and policy to delivery and ensuring Agri-EPI is compliant with Scottish, UK and EU procurement processes.

Annabelle Gardner

Membership & Events Manager

Annabelle comes from a marketing, comms and event management background, with experience specifically in the agricultural sector. She graduated from Harper Adams University with a first-class Honours degree in Business Management with Marketing. In her last role she worked for the Country Land and Business Association running as events manager and looking after membership. Annabelle is passionate about the agri-tech industry.

Claire Cunningham

Transformation & IT Manager

Claire has a degree in Management with Marketing and has had a varied career within health, IT and membership organisations. Claire has a keen interest in the culture of dynamic environments and is looking forward to improving the systems within Agri-EPI and facilitating change within the business to improve the delivery of our mission.

Duncan Forbes

Head of Dairy

Duncan Forbes has great record of experience in the Dairy industry. After several years in practical farming, Duncan moved into farm management consultancy and worked over twenty years as Managing Director at Kingshay. In this role for Agri-EPI Centre in Somerset, he is focussing on the development of the dairy research and demonstration facility for 180 cows combining robotic milking and feeding in a state-of-the-art building with precision grazing.

Duncan Ross

Business Development Manager | Horticulture & Crops

Duncan has a background in practical agriculture and horticulture at farm management level, a spell as an irrigation consultant and selling agricultural machinery onto farms including guidance technology and variable rate. Most recently he has been selling membership to landowners and rural businesses for the CLA (Country Land and Business Association). The business development role will draw on this experience, to help build relationships with academics, technology companies and the satellite farm network for future collaborations.

Emily Laskin

Projects Assistant

Emily is a graduate from University of California, Davis with a degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering. Growing up surrounded by farmland in Northern California as well as having spent many summers with her family in England’s Lake District sparked a passion for local and sustainable food production from an early age. Whilst at university she focused on projects involving food science and technology and indoor vertical farming. She is excited to join the technical team at Agri-EPI supporting the success of projects on the satellite farms and Innovate UK funded research projects.

Emma Nicolson

Executive Assistant / Office Manager

Emma comes from a PA background at the Scottish Parliament, where she worked for four years. After the Scottish elections in 2016, she moved to the Health Service and worked for four medical directors as Personal Assistant before taking a couple of years out to travel South East Asia and Australia. In Australia, Emma worked in several different Assistant roles in both Brisbane and Sydney before heading back to Scotland. This year she returned to Scotland as PA in the NHS and supporting different projects. Emma will be joining Agri-EPI to support the Management Team and the Edinburgh Northern Hub.

Fiona Unrau

Northern Hub Administrator

Fiona joins us from Bush House’s reception as the Northern Hub Administrator. Before this, Fiona spent 34 years working for Heineken and Scottish and Newcastle breweries. During this time, Fiona worked as a PA/Administrator for Marketing and Finance Directors and their teams. Fiona’s most memorable moment at Heineken was hosting a VIP group attending the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid. In her new role, Fiona will support Emma Nicolson with the day to day administration of the Northern Hub, as well as providing admin support to Northern Hub colleagues.

Francesca El Jorr

Marketing Officer

Francesca is a Marketing with Brand Management graduate from the University of Stirling, who has experience working in the Higher Education sector. In her role as Marketing Officer at Agri-EPI Centre, she supports the Centre’s efforts in raising its online and organisational profile in the Agri-Tech industry. Agri-Tech is a new industry for Francesca, but she is looking forward to learning more about the impact that Agri-Tech has on both national and global food production, for both farmers and business owners.

Gavin Dick

Head of Farm Network

Gavin has a broad working experience in agriculture, having managed a large farming enterprise in Aberdeenshire including combinable crops, seed potatoes, pigs, poultry and 650 dairy cows producing milk for ice-cream through a robotic milking system. He then moved to manage an estate in Perthshire specialising in pedigree beef and combinable crops, as well as a country house hotel with shooting and fishing interests. Gavin moved to SAC then AHDB where he worked with farmers in a Knowledge Exchange role to broaden their business management skills and joins Agri-EPI Centre to oversee all Satellite Farm Network activity.

Humaira Raza

Accountant

Humaira is an Accounting and Finance graduate and has worked in various sectors including Banking & Finance, Industry and Practice. She is currently studying towards her ACCA qualification to become a Chartered Accountant. Based at our Northern Hub in Edinburgh, she is responsible for daily processing of financial data, setting up financial reports and providing financial support to all organisational teams. Humaira believes that communication between all Hubs is key in ensuring the accounts run smoothly.

Jane Smernicki

Communications & Policy Manager

Jane comes from a journalism and communications background and is primarily responsible for growing and managing Agri-EPI Centre’s media profile. She has been involved in several sectors over the past 20 years, including charity, housing and higher education but, prior to joining the Agri-EPI Centre team, she spent eight years leading communications at Scotland’s Rural College, where she developed a very strong passion for communication supporting successful rural economies.

John Grealish

Senior Investment Advisor

John’s role is to engage with the investor community on behalf of Agri-EPI, and to help bring innovative agritech businesses together with sources of private capital. During a 16 year career in alternative investments, John has held senior investment roles across both private equity and venture capital funds, sourcing and executing transactions. He has also held senior roles advising investors on transactions, strategy and value creation at McKinsey & Co, and most recently as a Principal at Bain &Co. He holds an M.A. in Modern History from Oxford University.

Kasi McReddie

Business Development Manager | Livestock

Kasi leads on driving new project opportunities through Agri-EPI’s livestock facilities. She is focused on identifying and managing key relationships within Agri-EPI’s membership base and the wider livestock industry, as well as building consortia, steering and coordinating projects and find funding for a pipeline of innovative projects. Kasi comes from a dairy farming background and has specific expertise is biotech solutions to animal and environmental health challenges. She has worked within the Agri-Tech Centres since 2018, having previously been employed within the Business Development team at sister Centre, CIEL.

Les Hurdiss

Hub Operational Manager

Les started his career as a systems analyst with GKN Sankey working on the MICV project, now the Warrior Armoured Vehicle. He joined Ford in a commercial role and became the youngest manager of a dealership in the UK.
He spent 20 years with Banks’s Brewery / Marston’s in regional operation roles, heading up the catering division, moving to Carlsberg to become UK Customer Operations Director. He went on to oversee the Ministry of Defence’s outsourced Facilities Management across RAF stations in West Midlands and Wales for ISS (Mediclean / Compass) based at RAF Cosford. Les will have a key role engaging SMEs, PhDs and clients with our Midlands Hub.

Lesley Joyce

Head of Finance

Lesley is an experienced Financial Planning and Analysis Leader who has successfully managed finance teams in sectors ranging from the Service sector to Research, Development & Innovation for over 20 years. Lesley brings a wealth of expertise in managing finances through public/private partnerships such as the Catapult Network and has worked closely with Regional, National and European funding bodies such as BEIS, Innovate UK and the European Commission. Lesley is highly skilled in understanding the complex mechanisms of public Grants and has managed portfolios worth in excess of £300m.

Marta Bennett

Membership & Sales Administrator

Marta is the Sales and Membership Administrator at Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Hub and deals with all aspects of membership: form processing, invoicing requests, updating the CMS and keeping our membership portal up to date. She is also involved in organising and publicising events as well as updating and communicating the events particulars to delegates and internal staff.
Marta comes from an event and office management background, where her years of experience organising successful medium and large scale events, as well as her involvement in running a family owned digital agency, has proved to be instrumental in making a positive contribution to her role at Agri-EPI. She is also the friendly and professional face of our Midlands Hub based at the reception desk.

Naomi Smitten

Project Manager

Naomi has a varied career starting in Finance, Accounting, Project coordinating and recently since qualifying she has moved into Project Management.
Naomi is based in the Midlands Hub and plans to add to her collection of projects. Majority of her roles have been focused on but not limited to agriculture.
Naomi has on farm experience in Dairy/Poultry & Honey Bees which drives her passion to assist the Agricultural Industry by continuing to grow her experience, knowledge and qualifications.

Rebecca Lewis

New Business & Proposals Manager

Rebecca has a background in consulting in the international agri food supply chain, spanning all sectors but especially dairy, livestock and horticulture. Prior to this she worked in dairy farming and has a degree in Agriculture. Rebecca has a broad understanding of agriculture and food supply chains and looks forward to helping to bring partners together to create innovative projects that will effect positive change to deliver value for farmers, consumers and the supply chain.

Stephen Burns

Senior Project/Technical Manager

Stephen started off as an Electronics Engineer before specialising in Product Development and Project Management. He is currently leading the team in delivering the Satellite Farm Network as well as taking on responsibility for delivering the company’s commitment to Health & Safety.

Suzie Brown

HR Manager

Suzie is an experienced HR generalist with a background in the higher education and voluntary sector. She is responsible for all general HR functions within the company and ensures AEC has the staff needed to meet the organisation’s strategic goals. She also leads in the development and implementation of internal policies and procedures.

Yoni van Breukelen

Marketing Manager

Yoni leads the Marketing activity to enhance Agri-EPI Centre’s presence within the UK and intercontinental Agri-Tech industry. The agricultural sector is new territory, but Yoni has an all-round background in Marketing and Communications, working for companies offering various specialised business-to-business services in different sectors: Human Resources, IT and Higher Education to name a few.

To find out more about Agri-EPI Centre and to contact any of our team, please get in touch.